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KONVER II - Fostering of Conversion by the European Union

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Release date: 1997-02

The implementation of a long-term program aimed specifically at conversion signalizes the priority which the European Union (EU) attaches to the impact of reduced military spending on the economy and the employment market. European conversion policy is geared towards those regions of member states that are most severely affected by the changes in the military sector. Specifically, structural and employment-related measures will be taken on the regional policy level to support and influence the restructuring process. At this level measures will be able to meet tht challenges and tap the potential of conversion more effectively and to limit the negative after-effects. Conversion is seen as structural change, and conversion support is an investment in a regional economy that is becoming less dependent upon the military.

This report documents how conversion has been fostered by the EU so far and how the conversion programs fit into general EU regional policy. The implementation of KONVER II is discussed in detail, this being the largest conversion program hitherto, with a volume of 744.3 million Ecu for the years 1994-1999. The Bonn International Center for Conversion (BICC) carried out a study in 1994 on behalf of the European Commission to develop proposals for determining which regions are eligible for support (Brömmelhörster, Render, Scharr, 1994) (1). This study describes the main elements of the implementation phase of KONVER II. It will be used to demonstrate the objective of the program, the problems involved in determining the areas that will benefit from the program, the recommended procedures and its final implementation.

Based on the operational programs that have to be approved by the EU Commission before KONVER funds can be granted, three cases, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and the German federal state of Thuringia, are subsequently discussed. Particular focus here is on the impact of conversion and the measures taken to support the restructuring process.

In line with the terminology of the EU Commission, we have differentiated between the "arms industry" and "military bases". The generic term "military sector" is used to denote both.

The report primarily addresses people with an interest in conversion policy as well as practitioners seeking background information on how European Community initiatives develop and are put into practice. Representatives of the EU Commission and appropriate state officers may also find interest in this program, particularly with regard to shaping future programs outside the conversion context.

My sincere thanks go to the many people who gave their help and advice in the preparation of this report. I am especially grateful to my BICC colleagues, Corinna Hauswedell, Ulrike Lindemann, Dr. Herbert Wulf and Werner Voss of ISA Consult.

Ref. 1: The following observations are based largely on the above-mentioned study. In the following, any references to the study are marked as KONVER data or KONVER criteria.